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Orange County, CA Register

The never-ending scandal

Editorial - The latest allegations in the Roman Catholic Church scandals lay responsibility at the feet of local leaders.

Monday, October, 20, 2003

News stories about former Roman Catholic priest Eleuterio Ramos, who recently admitted to Orange police that he molested more than 25 young boys during the 1970s and 1980s, brought to mind an article former Bishop of Orange Norman McFarland wrote recently in the Orange County Catholic.

Called "The Age of the Amateur," the article was a stinging attack on those in the media who reported about the papal document from 1962 that has been widely interpreted as a blueprint for avoiding investigations of child abuse. The former bishop blasts that interpretation, with the clear subtext: Trust the church authorities - the professionals - to deal with the abuse crisis, not the amateurs in the public and the media.

But the Register's timeline and article regarding the Ramos situation are instructive of where church leadership has gotten us. Attorney John Manly, who represents five alleged victims of the Rev. Ramos, said that one of the victims reported to his pastor in 1978 that he was molested by the Rev. Ramos at St. Joseph's in Placentia. In 1979, the church sent the Rev. Ramos to psychological treatment in Massachusetts. He remained in the ministry, serving in a church in La Habra in 1980, and then in Tijuana in 1985. The priest admitted to the Orange police that he continued to molest boys over that period.

"Ramos has admitted he is a perpetrator. Now we are waiting for the second perpetrator - the bishops of Orange since the 1970s - to acknowledge the truth," said Mr. Manly. "It's very clear, if this guy is admitting to 25, there probably are 200. ... He sells his victims to other guys. This guy was a monster and they turned him loose."

Finally, in 1991 the Rev. Ramos was suspended from active ministry. Not until this year has the diocese begun to remove him permanently from the priesthood. Bishop McFarland, who was bishop from 1987 to 1998, told the Register he warned the Tijuana church about the allegations of sexual abuse and that he removed the Rev. Ramos from ministry as soon as he became aware of the allegations in 1991.

But the lawsuit referred to in the news story argues that "defendants and each of them had the authority and the ability to obstruct or stop the sexual assaults on plaintiff, but negligently and/or willfully failed to do so, thereby allowing the abuse to occur and to continue unabated."

The facts will no doubt be revealed in the legal proceedings, but the accusations are similar to the ones that have plagued the church here and across the country. If this is how the professionals operate, an institution couldn't do much worse being run by amateurs.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests